The Expedition by: Chris Babu | Book Review

The Expedition
By: Chris Babu
Genre: Dystopian Fiction, YA Fiction, Drama, Adventure
Rating: 3 stars
Publisher: Permuted Press
Release Date: December 4, 2018

IndieBound | Amazon | B&N |

Synopsis:

THEY SURVIVED THE INITIATION. NOW THE REAL TEST BEGINS.

Drayden and his friends thought nothing could be harder than the Initiation. Little did they know it had only been a warmup for the challenge that lay ahead.

With New America’s situation dire, Drayden and the pledges venture out into the unexplored world outside the walls, escorted by a team of elite Guardians. The group seeks to contact another civilization in what remains of Boston, but Drayden has secret goals of his own.

Dangers abound in the real world, including Aeru, the deadly superbug that wiped out humanity. While they battle the elements of a desolate landscape, a power struggle emerges within their ranks. The Guardians seem to be carrying out a covert mission themselves, and the quest turns everything they thought they knew about New America upside down.

My Thoughts

As this is a part of a series, I thought it best to separate my personal pros and cons in a generic way because some of my notes directly relate to the open-ended plots of the series. In addition to a few of the plot twists that happen in the last few chapters of this book in particular.

PROS:

Overall, The Expedition offers way more character development, action and suspense scenes than book one. It also gives the reader more in details on the secrets the Bureau wants to keep hidden from the people of New America and even a (very) few details about the main character, Drayden, mother’s exile. Drayden shows that the Initiation has given him more of a backbone and a willingness to assert himself in a position of power when going up against a few Bureau members and Guardians, even if the odds are stacked against him.

His character showing and taking initiative during their journey outside of the wall towards Boston made him more likable (in my opinion) compared to book one because he doubted himself too much and was really reserved. This, I feel was a combination of Drayden having to process what happened to his mother, best friend and the Initiation one after another. So, I thought to see him actually acknowledge this a bit in the book while going to Boston was pretty fundamental.

Of the other three who made it through the Initiation with him, I didn’t really feel there was a major shift in their characters between the two books; more like Drayden seemed more comfortable with them as a team and people he could trust. In book one, because Drayden was smart, everyone kind of leaned on him as a default. In this book, his leadership has been earned and I actually agreed that he deserved the leadership and respect that he was fighting for.

Moreover, I really liked the strength and bond present in this book among Charlie, Sydney, Drayden, and Catrice because it was something I could bank on growing even stronger facing the dangers outside of the wall. Both with the strangers they encountered along the way as well as with the group of Guardians assigned to go with them.

CONS:

In order to get to the core of this book, I was gifted book one to read also. I think that out of the two, I preferred The Expedition over The Initiation because the story has Drayden placed in the middle of an active, narrative plot that shows his character in more progressively/active manner. He is a deeply flawed character that struggles to grasp the people and situations around him. I appreciate a flawed protagonist and find it interesting when the secondary characters draw attention to the same flaws or begin to dislike the main character the same way that I do.

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Journeys Of A Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips | Book Review

Journeys Of A Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips
Genre: Travel, Explore, Informative, Non-Fiction
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Release Date: October 23, 2018

  

Synopsis: Featuring 120 new destinations, this best-selling inspirational travel guide reveals 500 celebrated and lesser-known destinations around the globe, from ocean cruises in Antarctica to horse treks in the Andes. Completely revised and updated for its 10th anniversary.

Compiled from the favorite trips of National Geographic’s legendary travel writers, this fully updated, 10th anniversary edition of Journeys of a Lifetime spans the globe to highlight the best of the world’s most celebrated and lesser-known sojourns. Offering a diverse array of possibilities, every continent and possible form of transport is covered, illustrated with glorious color photographs. With 16 new pages; new destinations like Cartegena, Colombia; and updated information throughout, this timely new edition is the perfect resource for travelers who crave adventurous trips–from trekking the heights of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to mountain biking in Transylvania–and those searching for more specific experiences (the world’s top small cruises, hot new museums around the world, secrets for following in the footsteps of film and TV heroes, and more). Each chapter features stunning photography, full-color maps, and practical tips, including how to get there, when to visit, and how to make the most of your journey.

Informative and inspiring, this luxurious volume is a lifelong resource that readers will treasure for years to come.

My Thoughts:

First off, I think this book will definitely make those novice or inexperienced travelers that lack that last nudge of motivation to plan their first trip thirsty, hungry and excited to travel around the world.

The pictures in this (text)book of travel were exquisite and while I share a few photos from the book, I know that I am not doing them enough justice. Some of the pictures I chose to share with you today were places I personally wanted to visit and others were just a few that really caught my eye while perusing through the pages.

The book of sectioned off into a number of categories that offers a bit of something for the travelers who seek out great places to eat, to hike, to take in the scenery, to see iconic landmarks etc. So, if your goal is to plan your trip or pick a destination based on specific parameters, Journeys of a Lifetime gives you the options of Across Water, By Road, By Rail, On Foot, In Search of Culture, In Gourmet Haven, Into The Action, Up & Away and In Their Footsteps. Going through this book brought back so many Art History memories and I LOVED it. Especially in the in Search of Culture section.

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Symphony Of Fates (Dragon Songs Saga #4) by J.C. Kang | Book Blast

Hello Again, Book-Peeps:

Before we get into the weekend, I have a quick little post for ya! It’s the fourth and final book in the Dragon Songs Saga by JC Kang,  previously known as The Daughter Of The Dragon Throne, re-release book-day today! ^_^  Symphony of Fates takes readers on the final journey of Princess Kaiya as she fights to protect and restore the realm she loves. This historical, mythological, epic-high fantasy/adventure, sorcery fiction series is one you’re gonna want to jump into.  Here’s a bit about Symphony Of Fates:

Kaiya escapes her ordeal at the hands of the Teleri Emperor, only to return to a homeland beset by enemies on all sides, and crumbling from within.

As a teenager, she quelled a rebellion with the Dragon Scale Lute. As a young adult, she vanquished a dragon with the power of her voice.

Now, robbed of her magic by grief, Kaiya must navigate a web of court intrigue to save the realm before it falls. Only she can lay claim to the Dragon Throne on behalf of her unborn sons—whether the father is the lover who perished rescuing her, or the hated enemy who killed him.

In the final story in Kaiya’s saga, she must rally a nation, repel invaders, and prove to the world why her family alone holds the Mandate of Heaven.

And now… The moment we’ve been waiting for…

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Dances Of Deception (Dragon Songs Saga #3) by J.C. Kang | Cover Reveal (+Book Sale & Giveaway)

Heya, Fellow Book Enthusiasts:

How’s this week been treating ya? Swell? Maybe not so swell? Well, I have some fun news to share with you today. Remember the series I read and reviewed by J.C. Kang? Previously know as The Daughter Of The Dragon Throne, now the Dragon Songs Saga, is a historical, mythological, epic-high fantasy/adventure, sorcery fiction series.

J.C. reached out and told about a book re-launch party happening today, 10AM-9PM over on Facebook.  This launch party will include giveaways, author takeovers, and more! It is definitely something you don’t want to miss.

I have even more good news to for the #TGIF trend today. A cover reveal for book 3 of the Dragon Songs Saga, Dances Of Deception. In case you’re new to the series, here’s a bit about Dances Of Deception:

The world knows Kaiya as the Dragon Charmer.

After vanquishing the Last Dragon with the power of her voice, all she wants is to return to a quiet life of anonymity. Instead, the Emperor tasks her with an onerous task: negotiating with the aggressive Teleri Empire for the extradition of her cousin, who tried to murder the imperial family and usurp the Dragon Throne.

The mission reunites her with her childhood friend Tian, now an assassin-spy who loathes killing. He is no longer the adorable, gullible boy from her memories, any more than she is the adventurous, sweet girl from his. Instead of rekindling nostalgia for a youthful innocence they both yearn for, their reunion ignites a mutual hatred.

When the Teleri Empire breaks off negotiations, Tian must help Kaiya escape. Orcs, Ogres, and enemy soldiers stand between them and home, and their volatile relationship could get them captured… or killed.

And now… The moment we’ve been waiting for…

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Soul Blade (The Sword Of Light Trilogy #3) by: Aaron Hodges | Audiobook Review

Soul Blade (The Sword Of Light Book #3)
Narrator(s):David Stifel
Unabridged Audiobook: 9 hrs and 38 mins
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Magic, YA Fantasy, Adventure, Mythology
Release Date: December 5, 2016
I Graciously Received A Copy Of This Book In Exchange For An Honest Review

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible

Synopsis:
The Three Nations are crumbling. Darkness is gathering. Only one remains to stand against it. Eric stumbles through the wilderness, searching, hunting – desperate for  sign of his sister. But the girl is gone, stolen away by the power of  the Soul Blade. With each passing hour its hold on her tightens, her spirit fading before the onslaught of its magic.

If he cannot save her soon, it will claim her soul. And he will have to kill her.

Meanwhile, Gabriel is lost in the darkness. It is his whole world now, its presence absolute, suffocating. Time, hope, sanity, all have long since slipped beneath the waves of his despair. Only it remains – the  unrelenting voice of the demon. It haunts the darkness, mocking him with false promises of freedom.

How long can he resist its call?

Audiobook Review

Having the world and all the heroes pitted in such a thick cloud of darkness and doubt for the final chapter of this trilogy made this audiobook really enjoyable. Characters/heroes are only as good as how they react under such disparaging circumstances. I found that Eric’s character really seemed to come full circle in this last book as he and Anala find their way back to each other and the rest of their group while doing all that they can to learn to control the strength and weakness within their magic.

Though I was still not a fan of Eric and Inka’s relationship (that has always felt more like a siblings/close friend relationship) I do contribute a lot of his character growth to the support she’s given him throughout this series. With high fantasy/adventure stories like The Sword Of Light Trilogy I think it can be hard to really immerse yourself within these stories if the narrator does not bring a sense of animation and layer personality to the story.

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Cover Reveal For: Songs of Insurrection (Dragon Songs #1) by J.C. Kang

Happy New Year & Happy Friday, Peeps! ^_^

So, I have an exciting post for you all. Today marks the official relaunch day for Songs Of Insurrection by J.C. Kang. Previously know as The Dragon Scale Lute, book one of the historical, mythological, epic-high fantasy/Adventure, sorcery fiction, Dragon Songs (previously the Daughter of The Dragon Throne) series. As you can see on my blog, I’ve followed this series since early last year, and while I liked the old cover, the new one looks amazing.

In case you’re new to the series, here’s a bit about Songs Of Insurrection:

Only the lost art of evoking magic through music can prevent Cathay from descending into chaos. Blessed with an unrivaled voice, Kaiya dreams of a time when a song liberated enslaved humans from their orc masters.

Maybe then, the imperial court would see the awkward, gangly princess as more than a singing fool. 

When members of the emperor’s elite spy clan uncover a brewing rebellion, the court hopes to appease the ringleader by offering Kaiya as a bride.  Obediently wedding the depraved rebel leader means giving up her music.

Confronting him with the growing power of her voice could kill her.

And now… The moment we’ve been waiting for…

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Book Review: Mandate Of Heaven (Daughter Of The Dragon Throne #4) by J.C. Kang

Mandate Of Heaven (Legends of Tivara, Daughter of The Dragon Throne #4)
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mythology, High Fantasy/Adventure Fiction, Sorcery
Release date: December 7, 2016
I graciously received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis:

Kaiya escapes her ordeal at the hands of the Teleri Emperor, only to return to a homeland beset by enemies on all sides, and crumbling from within.

As a teenager, she quelled a rebellion with the Dragon Scale Lute. As a young adult, she vanquished a dragon with the power of her voice.

Now, robbed of her magic by grief, Kaiya must navigate a web of court intrigue to save the realm before it falls. Only she can lay claim to the Dragon Throne on behalf of her unborn sons—whether the father is the lover who perished rescuing her, or the hated enemy who killed him.

In the final story in Kaiya’s saga, she must rally a nation, repel invaders, and prove to the world why her family alone holds the Mandate of Heaven.

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Book Review: Firestorm (The Sword Of Light Book #2) By: Aaron Hodges

Narrator(s):David Stifel
Unabridged Audiobook: 9 hrs and 58 mins Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Magic, Fantasy, Adventure, New Adult Fiction, Mythology
Release Date: August 18, 2016
I Graciously Received A Copy Of This Book In Exchange For An Honest Review
Synopsis:
The Gods have fallen.
The Three Nations are in chaos. 
Archon is coming. 
The company are surrounded, trapped on the blood-soaked sands of Malevolent Cove. With them they carry the only hope of the Three Nations: Enala, wielder of the Sword of Light. But the girl is mad, catatonic, her mind lost in a chasm of grief. She lies helpless before the power of Archon.
Meanwhile, Eric is close to mastering his magic. But Alastair is gone; there is no one left to protect him. The perilous force yearns for its freedom, and Eric alone stands against it. To prevail he must break the shackles of his past. He must face the last ghost of Oaksville.

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